DENVER (CBS4) - Rockies pitcher Lucas Gilbreath is living his dream.
"Just to put it simply, it's a blessing, it's an incredible opportunity," said Gilbreath about the opportunity to pitch for his hometown team.
Gilbreath grew up 15 miles north of Coors Field and played his high school ball at Legacy High School in Broomfield under the watchful eye of head coach Ty Giordano.
"The first day he came out, he had all kinds of length in his body, the arm was super live and active and loose, and I was like, 'Holy cow,'" says Giordano of the first time he saw Gilbreath pitch.
"After tryouts were over, his mom asked me how he did, and I went on to tell her, 'Not only is he going to make the team, he's going to get drafted out of high school.'"
"Lucas was playing freshman basketball," Theresa Gilbreath recalls. "I'm sitting at the game watching him play basketball and Ty came and sat next to me and he's like 'How's it going?' and I said 'Good' and he said 'Why is he playing basketball?' And I said 'Because he loves basketball. He loves to play sports.' And he's like 'Uh, you know that kid's going to play in the major leagues someday. ... He has a major league curve ball.'"
Giordano was right. After Gilbreath led the state of Colorado in strikeouts as both a junior and senior, he was drafted in the 36th round by the Rockies.
"It was a very cool opportunity and a blessing to be called by the Rockies," says Gilbreath. "At the time, I was realistic, and I think may parents were a good influence that I needed to get an education. On top of it, I needed to develop in baseball."
So Gilbreath went to the University of Minnesota, where he made 48 appearances and recorded 168, and following his junior season, the Rockies came calling again, this time in the 7th round.
"When they called me again in 2017, I was ecstatic and happy that I got that opportunity again," said Gilbreath.
Fast forward four years later, and Lucas got the call that all minor leaguers dream of: he'd been called up to the big leagues, and this month -- on May 1 -- he made his big league debut. That game was in Arizona, and on May 4 he made his home debut at Coors Field.
"It was pretty crazy. It was surreal. Sometimes I still don't think it's hit me yet. Running out of the bullpen and seeing those familiar landmarks. It took me a second to relax," said Gilbreath.
"15 months was his first game at Coors Field," said Chris, Lucas' dad. "Now when we go to Coors Field it's like it shrunk a little. And now it's your kid. And it's like 'This can't be the Coors Field that we grew up on.' It's been awesome."
In addition to his parents and family, Gilbreath has friends and former teammates in the stands at Coors Field nearly every night.
"Being able to see my family, and my wife come out, and a lot of my friends and family friends, being able to see all those people there is awesome for me. That support is huge," said Gilbreath. "Just being able to know they're out there and cheering me on, that pushes you through it and pushes you from some adversity. It's awesome to have them there."
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